Acts 22:17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance”
Paul recollects how he returns to Jerusalem after 3 years of being in Damascus and Arabia.
He had left Jerusalem with a murderous heart towards the Jesus followers.
He now returns a changed man.
Praying in the temple was not unusual for him. He did this before his transformation.
Transformation did not remove custom but it enhanced it. He obviously now knew he could pray anywhere. If he could talk to Jesus on a Damascus road then he knew he did not need to be in a building to do so. But he did not cut ties with the traditional custom of the Temple and what it stood for.
Sometimes in the pursuit of the modern we rubbish the ancient and then we lose the much needed narrative that will guide, shape and hold us in our new season.
Sometimes we shouldn’t remove the ‘sacred cow’ (for my international friends a ‘sacred cow’ is a western euphemism for a custom that is above criticism or change). Sacred cows have been removed in my lifetime and I am not sure we have gained anything by doing so:
The Sunday evening gospel service has been removed from the diary.
The Pastor visiting member’s homes now makes appointments for meetings in his office.
We used to dress up for church, now we dress down and dress up for work.
I shall stop before I offend and I am actually in favour of some of the much needed changes.
So back to the point, Paul returned to the temple to pray. It is the custom, the central point for the Jew, the untouchable. Paul didn’t need to but he did.
However, something new happened within the ancient place. Paul whilst praying in the temple had a visionary trance. Now that is new for the temple!
Do you see? I think this is the important key. This unlocks revelation to us.
The ancient isn’t in need of the modern. The modern doesn’t need to pull away.
The ancient is in need of the supernatural.
The Temple was experiencing a visionary trance. This was a move of God just like Isaiah had so many generations before.
‘Sacred cows’ do not necessarily need killing or holding with high honour, they just need the touch of God, the divine encounter of His supernatural presence.
For Paul, it came during prayer.
The prayer meeting is having a revival of its own in many churches. It was a sacred cow, but it was killed in favour of something else or was starved to death because there was no purpose. I remember visiting a church to preach and attended the before-service prayer meeting where the attendance was just 1 member! But I notice prayer meetings are on the rise in churches. It is an ancient ritual but maybe the Church is getting ready for heavenly visions. I hope so.
Let the sacred cows receive the breath of God on them. Let the ancient ways be revisited by the Ancient of Days. We change but our custom can and maybe at times should remain.